A Elements Behavioral Health Guide to Drug Rehab
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People addicted to opioid narcotics (and other drugs of abuse) often have additional mental health issues that significantly complicate their recovery during addiction treatment. In many cases, the situation is worsened by recovering addicts’ relatively infrequent use of available psychiatric services. In a study published in November 2013 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers from Johns Hopkins University assessed the usefulness of an approach called contingency management (CM) in increasing recovering  opioid addicts’ willingness to participate in psychiatric treatment. The researchers found that appropriate use of contingency management can significantly boost program participants’ attendance for psychiatric services.

Opioid Addiction And Mental Illness

Contingency Management Opioid Addiction Treatment | CM Rehab BenefitsLike other forms of drug and alcohol addiction, opioid addiction is officially classified as a form of mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. This is true because continued, excessive use of addictive substances literally alters the function of the human brain, and thereby fosters a range of serious, dysfunctional changes in everyday behavior. In addition, opioid addictions (and other substance addictions) often appear at the same time as other forms of diagnosable mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia or anxiety disorders.

Numerous factors help explain the overlap between addiction and these mental illnesses, including the ability of substance abuse/addiction to trigger the onset of additional illness and the ability of non-substance-based mental illnesses to increase the risks for involvement in substance use. Research also indicates that substance addiction and other forms of mental illness share several important common risk factors that increase their likelihood of appearing together.

Contingency Management Basics

Contingency management is a behavior modification technique that uses rewards (and, in some cases, punishments) to bring about desired results in a drug treatment program or other therapeutic setting. One common form of this approach, called voucher-based reinforcement or VBR, uses the distribution of vouchers for services or material goods to encourage treatment compliance.

Another form of CM, called prize incentives contingency management, motivates compliance by giving patients a chance to win cash with every significant step toward active treatment participation. Contingency management is used in programs that treat addiction to substances such as opioid narcotics, marijuana, amphetamine, methamphetamine, alcohol and nicotine. Some programs use the technique to encourage abstinence during the course of recovery. Others use it to encourage participation in the psychiatric programs that address other forms of mental illness in people involved in substance addiction treatment.

Addicts Willing To Remain In Drug Rehab With Contingency Management

In the study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the Johns Hopkins University researchers used an assessment of 125 adults going through outpatient treatment for opioid dependence to gauge the effectiveness of contingency management in improving the willingness to receive psychiatric services during participation in an addiction recovery program. Half of these individuals received $25 vouchers for each week of full participation in a 12-week course of psychiatric treatment. The remaining adults had access to the same psychiatric treatment, but did not receive vouchers or any other form of reward for treatment attendance. The researchers measured each group’s level of attendance after each month of the program.

After reviewing their findings, the researchers concluded that, compared to an approach that doesn’t employ contingency management, use of voucher-based CM nearly doubles the level of psychiatric treatment attendance after one month of treatment. In addition, use of vouchers more than doubles the level of attendance after two months of treatment and after three months of treatment. People who receive vouchers for psychiatric services remain in opioid addiction treatment just as often as people who don’t receive vouchers. They also successfully avoid using opioid drugs with equal frequency.

Contingency Management’s Clear Benefits In Addiction Programs

The authors of the study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence believe that the use of contingency management techniques provides clear benefits for encouraging the use of psychiatric services in opioid addiction programs. However, they note that their research only looked at psychiatric services delivered to patients in a purposeful, coordinated manner during the course of addiction treatment.

Services delivered in other ways may or may not receive the same attendance boost from the contingency management approach. The authors also note that the specific type of psychiatric treatment offered in any given program may have a considerable impact on the usefulness of CM. In addition, program managers may need to alter or modify their use of CM in order to meet the specific challenges faced by their patient clientele.

Read More About Drug Rehab Treatment And Contingency Management

Cannabis is the umbrella term for the mind-altering products marijuana, hashish and hashish oil, which come from the cannabis group of plant species. All of these products create substantial risks for physical dependence and addiction when used regularly for relatively extended amounts of time. Cannabis use also comes with a known risk for psychosis and certain other mental health problems. In a study published in August 2013 in the journal Addiction, a team of Dutch researchers looked at the relative risks for mental illness in dependent/addicted marijuana users and users unaffected by dependence/addiction. The researchers concluded that the mental illness risks in these populations differ in substantial ways.

What Exactly Is Cannabis?

Marijuana Use Linked to Mental Disorders | Cannabis Effects The BrainMarijuana comes from dried, non-concentrated parts of Cannabis plants such as the leaves, stems and flowers. Hashish and hashish oil, on the other hand, come from the purposeful concentration of these plant parts. All three of these cannabis-based products contain the same active ingredient, known informally as THC and formally as tetrahydrocannabinol. THC triggers changes in brain function that create the classic effects of cannabis intoxication, including altered thinking and sensory perception, a rise in pleasurable feelings, appetite increases, reduced clarity in several major areas of consciousness, and a reduced ability to move the body’s muscles in an efficient, controlled manner.

Marijuana’s Dependence And Addiction

Despite its reputation as a relatively harmless, “natural” substance, THC can make substantial alterations in a person’s long-term brain function when used repeatedly or habitually over time. These changes in function can eventually make the brain “see” the presence of THC as a chemical norm rather than a rare or occasional event. When this situation arises, the affected individual has what’s known as a physical dependence on the effects of cannabis/THC. By itself, physical dependence on a substance does not necessarily constitute a dangerous or harmful situation. However, when combined with persistent drug-seeking behaviors and other disruptive or dysfunctional actions, dependence establishes the necessary groundwork for the onset of a drug addiction.

Mental Health Risks Of Marijuana Use

While under the temporary influence of cannabis products, users commonly experience short-term symptoms that closely approximate psychosis, an altered mental state (classically associated with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-related illnesses) that primarily features delusional thought processes and/or some sort of sensory hallucination. In some cases, regular users develop a more extended form of psychosis that continues as long as a pattern of cannabis intake continues. In addition, current evidence strongly indicates that habitual cannabis users have increased long-term chances of developing diagnosable cases of schizophrenia or depression that continue to exert their effects even when a pattern of cannabis intake stops.

In the study published in Addiction, researchers from the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction sought to determine if people physically dependent on cannabis have higher risks for developing mental health issues than cannabis users unaffected by dependence. They made this determination by tracking the mental health diagnoses of 252 young adults affected by cannabis dependence, as well as the diagnoses of 269 young adult, non-dependent cannabis users. For comparison’s sake, they also tracked the mental health diagnoses of over 1,000 non-cannabis-using young adults. The researchers did not attempt to differentiate issues of cannabis dependence from issues of cannabis addiction.

Effects On Mental Illness In Dependent vs. Non-Dependent Marijuana Users

After reviewing the gathered data, the researchers found that both dependent and non-dependent cannabis users have a higher rate of mental illness than people who don’t use cannabis at all. They also found that dependent and non-dependent cannabis users are similar in most ways and share comparable patterns of general cannabis use, patterns of other forms of substance use and histories of problematic or traumatic childhoods. While dependent cannabis users have a higher overall rate of mental illness than non-dependent users, non-dependent users have higher rates than dependent users for illnesses called externalizing disorders, which include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Conversely, dependent users have particularly high rates for illnesses called internalizing disorders, which include mood disorders (depressive and bipolar illness) and a range of conditions referred to together as anxiety disorders.

Most of the difference in the mental illness rates between dependent and non-dependent cannabis users disappeared when the authors of the study published in Addiction took certain secondary factors into account, including the use of other substances and the presence of traumatic or problematic childhoods. However, even with these adjustments, dependent users still have higher illness rates than non-dependent users. Except for the spike in their rates for ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, non-dependent cannabis users have mental health profiles that closely resemble the profiles found among people who don’t use cannabis.

Statistics gathered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, show a disturbing trend among older Americans. Members of the Baby Boom generation are using drugs and getting addicted to them in record numbers. Whether we can explain the trend or not, the fact remains that elder drug abuse presents some unique problems that require unique approaches for prevention and treatment.

Drug Use Is Surging In Baby Boomers | Drug Abuse In Older AmericansThe statistics from SAMHSA show that among older Americans in recent years, marijuana use has increased five-fold, cocaine use has quadrupled, heroin abuse has doubled, and abuse of prescription drugs has more than quadrupled. The survey from SAMHSA also records treatment for drug abuse and addiction and found increases in the numbers of Boomers getting help for alcohol abuse in combination with cocaine use, and for abusing prescription painkillers. Emergency room visits for painkiller abuse and overdoses increased greatly over the last decade.

Explanations And Complications Of Drug Abuse In Older Americans

At first glance, the statistics surrounding the use and abuse of drugs in older Americans seems surprising. However, it is important to understand that we are discussing a generation of people who came of age in the 1960s, a time of experimentation and rebellion against authority. In tracking the drug and alcohol behaviors of this generation over the years, finding that they now, in their older years, are still using drugs is not a surprise. It only seems shocking when compared with the generations that came before them.

Unfortunately, drug abuse is even more of a problem for a person in his 50s and 60s than it was when he was in his 20s. As we age, our metabolism slows. For an older person abusing drugs or drinking too much alcohol, the time it takes to metabolize and get out of his system is much longer. An older person using may be intoxicated for longer and, therefore, at risk for more accidents and injuries.

Another issue is that drug users in their 50s or 60s are more likely to have health problems than they did in their younger years. Drug or alcohol abuse may exacerbate these problems, or even interact badly with prescribed medications. Furthermore, the symptoms of these other health conditions may mask the usual signs of drug abuse or addiction.

Signs Of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse and addiction are serious problems at any age, but in older Americans they present greater risks and complications. It is important to be aware of the possibility of drug use and to look out for signs in loved ones. Because another health problem may cause symptoms that mask the physical signs of drug abuse, watch for changes in behavior as the sign of a problem. Mood swings that are unexplained could be a sign of addiction, drinking or drug abuse. Changes in personality are also troubling. When someone just doesn’t seem like himself anymore, there could be a problem with drug abuse.

Prescription abuse is a growing problem among all age groups, so look for signs that your older friend or family member is abusing them. This could mean that he is requesting more refills for painkillers, seeing several doctors to get more prescriptions, going to more than one pharmacy or in other ways is trying to get more of his medications than has been prescribed.

Getting Help For A Loved One Abusing Drugs Or Alcohol

If anyone you love or care about is abusing drugs or alcohol, it is important to help him seek treatment; with an older person, it is especially imperative. Drug abuse can cause even more problems for someone who is older and should be stopped in its tracks. Having the courage to confront your parent, spouse, or other loved one about your suspicions could just save his life.

Confrontation is never easy so be prepared. Bring one or two other people along, friends or family members your loved one trusts. Be ready with solutions so that you are not simply accusing, but helping. Do your research ahead of time and find facilities for treatment that are prepared to work with older patients. As the problem of drug abuse continues to rise in the older demographic, more treatment centers are focusing on the age group. You should be able to find treatment plans that will suit the specific needs of your loved one and that will help him feel comfortable while getting well.

Read More About Seniors And Addiction

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes significant mood swings. It affects as much as two percent of the population and first manifests primarily in the late teens and early 20s. Although the severity and types of mood can vary dramatically among patients, the most common example of bipolar disorder is a cycling between periods of happiness and sadness, often at extreme levels (i.e. euphoria vs. despair). Although counseling can help patients learn how to identify their distinct moods, as well as the things that trigger each mood swing, many patients will also benefit from some sort of medication to help dampen negative symptoms and neutralize moods.

Alcoholism And Substance Abuse In Women With Bipolar DisorderIt is now pretty obvious that people who are taking prescription medications, including bipolar medications, should refrain from drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs as these substances can negatively interfere with the proper functioning of the medication. In some cases, the prescriptions and other substances can negatively interact to the point of overdose or death.

The Importance Of Identifying Signs Of Substance Abuse In Bipolar Patients

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the disease, some bipolar patients are unable to refrain from using alcohol or drugs even when they are taking prescription medication for their illness. In fact, roughly half of all patients with some form of bipolar disorder also have a drug or alcohol problem. Thus, when treating a patient who has bipolar disorder, mental health professionals must be vigilant in identifying signs of substance abuse or alcoholism as the two illnesses tend to go hand in hand.

Scientists have yet to discover a definitive explanation for the high incidence of substance abuse among bipolar patients. In fact, the real explanation likely entails a combination of factors. For instance, genetics may play a pivotal role — a family history of substance abuse plus bipolar disorder increases a person’s risk of having both diseases. Further, bipolar disorder can be a tough illness to treat. Although certain medications have been shown to be successful in alleviating certain bipolar symptoms in many patients, there is currently no cure for the disease and no one magic medication that renders all patients symptom free. As such, many patients use drugs and alcohol as a way to escape the symptoms of or fallout from the disease. This phenomenon is known as “self-medicating” and is often found in patients with the more debilitating mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder.

It turns out that doctors must be especially vigilant when it comes to identifying substance abuse in female bipolar patients. Studies show that females suffering from bipolar disorder are several times more likely to abuse alcohol than men with bipolar disorder.  Although men with bipolar disorder also have a higher incidence of alcoholism than men without bipolar disorder, the rate is nowhere near as high as with women.

Factors For Bipolar Disorder

While it could certainly be true that bipolar patients have a higher predisposition to addiction than non-patients, both family history and the fact that bipolar patients tend to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol is more likely the culprit behind such a high rate of alcoholism. Researchers at UCLA conducted a study  of roughly two hundred and fifty bipolar patients who were being treated at UCLA on an outpatient basis. The results of the survey showed that the males with alcohol problems were more likely to have a history of alcoholism in their families than males without such alcohol problems.

However, female participants with alcohol problems did not report similar rates of family alcohol problems. Instead, these patients reported co-occurring issues with anxiety and depression. Thus, researchers hypothesized that women bipolar patients were more likely to self-medicate than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, research also suggests that women are less likely to seek help for drinking problems than men. This puts female bipolar patients at high risk not only for alcoholism, but for untreated alcoholism.

Read More About Addiction And Mental Health – There Is Hope!

As our nation’s largest generational group reaches retirement, new concerns spring up around the mounting rates of addiction in this large and aging demographic. The baby boomer generation, by dint of sheer numbers, has long influenced the trends and direction of the U.S. in almost all areas of life. Though young people may have the corner on the cutting edge, it is the people born post World War II between 1946 and 1964 that either respond or don’t respond to the prevailing culture. How are the patterns and needs of baby boomers in addiction and recovery shaping the field of treatment and rehab? How do we handle addiction in an aging population? What special approaches should be taken?

Spare Time – Anxiety, Depression And Alcoholism

Baby Boomers And Addiction - Part 1 | Seniors And Late Life AddictionsAs baby boomers progress in the life cycle, professionals are seeing them forge wide paths into the realm of substance abuse, primarily alcoholism. As this population ages and retires, they face obstacles not nearly so prevalent in their parents’ generation. Many, for example, will live many years beyond retirement—how will these years be spent? Many have poured themselves into careers with workaholic ardor—now what shall be done with the spare time? Rates of anxiety and depression have also skyrocketed among boomers, making them a fertile breeding ground for substance and process addictions.

And now the challenge faces medical and mental health professionals: How to meet the mental health and addiction treatment needs of the aging baby boomers? What trends will arise and what challenges will manifest?

Recently, The New York Times addressed the issue in its health section through a two-part Q&A with Dr. Barbara Krantz, medical director of an addiction treatment center in Florida. “Advice on Addiction in Boomers,” Part 1 and Part 2, were responses to questions from individuals concerned about their own drinking patterns or those of a partner, as well as adult children unsure of how to handle parental alcoholism. Krantz describes some of the unique needs, challenges and solutions surrounding the issue of addiction in the baby boomer population.

Unique Patterns And Needs In Baby Boomers

While the fundamental recovery principles are essentially universal and change little from person to person or generation to generation, professionals in addiction and recovery recognized that boomer addicts could benefit from a treatment plan that was more holistic in its approach—one that aimed to speak to them and their unique perspective, cultural mindset, and experiences.

Dr. Krantz details the rationale behind the development of a treatment approach geared specifically to baby boomers:

“We created a specific program for baby boomers because their socialization and culture created unique issues that need to be addressed. Many boomers grew up at a time when there was a cultural acceptance of drugs and alcohol. It was a time when authority was questioned and knowledge was sought. Woodstock, the Vietnam War and other important generational elements are critical to note in treating them. It’s also important to approach boomers on an intellectual level. They need to fully understand why we approach treatment the way we do, because they search for knowledge and understanding rather than passively accepting authority.”

Addictions Beginning Later In Life

While many boomers perhaps never manifested addictions in mid life, the retirement years often present a fertile breeding ground for the development of an addiction or the exacerbation and escalation of what might have been previously termed “heavy drinking.” New stresses arise at this age. Marital problems come to the forefront when the children have finally left the nest. There are economic strains resulting from a depressed economy, late in life job loss, uncertainty about Social Security and how long retirement funds will last, hormonal changes, the illness or loss of a spouse, scattered social connections leading to isolation and loneliness, the unstructured schedule of retirement life, and the perceived loss of one’s sense of purpose. The rise of depression and anxiety is also a factor. Significant numbers of baby boomers are taking prescription drugs in an attempt to manage one or both of these conditions.

Untreated mental illnesses as well as the life conditions listed above have frequently led boomers to turn to a substance or process addiction for “support.” Certainly, as a demographic, they are not unique in this—people have been turning to alcohol to deal with the stresses and tragedies of life for centuries. But because of the greater size of this age group, treatment professionals face greater numbers of incoming patients.

Continued In Baby Boomers And Addiction – Part 2

In order to fully and accurately evaluate the global impact of various diseases and harmful health conditions, researchers in the United States and Australia analyzed extensive medical data collected from more than 180 countries representing every geographical region on the planet. Working under the auspices of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, these investigators were able to compare and contrast a wide range of medical conditions, and after crunching all of the numbers, they discovered that mental health and substance use disorders are now the world’s leading cause of non-fatal disease.

Mental Illness, Substance Abuse ‘Leading Causes of Non-Fatal Disease’For the purposes of this study, 20 different conditions were categorized under the mental health and substance use disorder umbrella, including depression, drug and alcohol abuse, idiopathic intellectual disabilities, and all known anxiety, childhood behavior, and pervasive development disorders. A study such as this would have been difficult to perform in the past since legitimate statistics on mental health disorders were often sparse or non-existent, especially in the developing world, but, fortunately, global awareness about mental illness has grown to the point where these conditions are now being recognized and diagnosed everywhere with much greater accuracy.

A Closer Look At Mental Health And Substance Abuse

In total, the conditions grouped together under the mental health and substance use disorder classification accounted for 22.8 percent of the global non-fatal disease burden, making them a greater factor for serious illness than such highly-publicized health problems as HIV/AIDS, diabetes and tuberculosis.

Breaking that 22.8 percent down into specific conditions, depressive disorders are easily the most common type of mental health problem experienced, accounting for 40.5 percent of all of the incidences reported. This means that depression alone is responsible for more than 10 percent of the global burden of non-lethal disease.

Next in line in frequency of diagnosis within the mental health/substance abuse group are:

  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction (20.5 percent)
  • Anxiety Disorders (14.6 percent)
  • Schizophrenia  (7.4 percent)
  • Bipolar Disorder (7.0 percent)
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorders (4.2 percent)
  • Childhood Behavioral Disorders (3.4 percent)
  • Eating Disorders (1.2 percent)

When the statistics for fatal and non-fatal illnesses are combined, mental health and substance use disorders are the fifth leading cause of death or serious disease across the globe. Naturally the incidence of specific mental conditions plus drug and alcohol addiction varies by geographical location, but there is no country or region of the world where common mental health problems and substance use issues are unheard of or insignificant in their levels of occurrence. The incidence of all mental health problems is higher in women and girls than in men and boys, but the inverse is true with respect to substance abuse.

Mental Health – Global Problems And Individual Solutions

While global statistics on mental health troubles and drug and alcohol addiction provide a useful overview of the situation, ultimately each individual nation-state will be forced to deal with the consequences of these conditions largely on its own. And unfortunately, in every single country, mental illness and substance abuse are placing significant financial and personnel burdens on health care systems that are already chronically undermanned and/or underfunded. In the developing world, shortages of trained medical professionals who are capable of providing effective and efficient mental treatment services are a constant problem, while in both developing and developed nation the high cost of treatment and rehabilitation often prevents suffering people from getting the attention and assistance they so desperately need. Complicating the picture further is that mental illness still too often goes undiagnosed, most frequently among the poor, and, in the case of substance abuse, even when individuals do manage to get treatment, the failure rate of this type of rehabilitation is discouragingly high.

In the past, mental illness carried a stigma that tended to prevent suffering people from coming forward and asking for help, or from admitting that they had a problem in the first place. Fortunately this situation has changed and changed dramatically, and that provides great reason for optimism and hope. Financial challenges that restrict the availability of quality mental health care for all are real and pervasive; however, as awareness of the depth of the problem of mental illness and substance abuse continues to spread, government agencies and public health officials in nations all across the planet will have little choice but to acknowledge reality and bring their funding priorities into line with the real needs of their citizens.

The legalization of marijuana in many states has led to increased availability and experimentation. While many individuals with chronic pain related to a serious injury or illness attest to its medicinal uses, there are still concerns about the recreational use of the drug.

Research has shown marijuana to be a “gateway drug” because experimentation and recreational use can give a user access to more dangerous drugs that carry a higher likelihood of addiction and more serious side effects.

Marijuana Users Experiencing Psychosis Even After Use

Another important concern related to marijuana is research connecting its use to ongoing psychotic episodes. Some studies have shown that users can experience psychosis, not only while under the immediate effects of the drug but for extended period following use.

When teens begin using marijuana, however, the risks may multiply. Teen brains are still developing and any substance use can interrupt the important processes occurring in the structures of the brain, causing long-term cognitive impairment.

Marijuana Use Associated With Multiple Negative Outcomes In TeensA study led by Willemijn A. Van Gastel of the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands examined the effect of marijuana on mental health. While many studies have documented the connection between psychological problems and marijuana use, it is unclear whether cannabis use leads to an increased risk of mental disorders or if those with mental health problems are more likely to use cannabis.

The findings were published in Psychological Medicine.

The study analyzed surveys administered to over 10,000 students aged 11 to 16. The questions on the survey requested information about substance use, including cannabis, alcohol and cigarettes.

The students were also asked about other aspects of life, including whether they had experienced any problems at school or if there was any conflict at home. They were also asked about whether there was any history of molestation and other environmental risk factors for mental health symptoms.

Multiple Problems In School And Behavior Associated With Marijuana Use

The results of the analysis showed that there was an association between marijuana use and psychosocial problems. When other risk factors were taken into account, however, the association was not as strong. In addition, there were risk factors that were associated with negative psychosocial outcomes that were also associated with increased levels of marijuana use, including behavioral problems at school, missing school due to illness, truancy and alcohol and cigarette use.

The authors of the study believe that the presence of substance use, low self-esteem and difficulties with mood disorder symptoms could lead to psychosocial problems and marijuana use.

The researchers were surprised to find that there was no evidence of a relationship between the level of marijuana use and the level of poor outcomes in psychosocial measures. This suggests that the risk factors are a critical component in determining whether marijuana use leads to other negative outcomes.

Can Marijuana Use Indicate If A Teen Might Be At Risk For Mental Health Problems?

The authors note that the findings can be understood as a way to predict future negative behavioral and overall psychological and psychosocial wellbeing. In other  words, marijuana use can indicate whether a teen might be at risk for mental health problems.

Drug Prevention And Education To Reduce Risk Of Substance Abuse

The findings are helpful for targeting teens that may be in need of prevention and education efforts to improve mental health and reduce the risk of additional substance use. Screening teens for substance use may also help identify possible areas of high risk for mental disorders.

While marijuana is often considered a harmless substance when used in moderation, many of the effects of the drug are not fully explored. Parents are encouraged to talk openly and often with their teens about the risks associated with marijuana use, including the possibility of mental disorders.

The misuse of prescription drugs has become a serious problem in the United States. In many situations a prescription is written for a legitimate health problem, it’s used for a time and then left forgotten in a medicine cabinet.

Teens raid their parents’ and other relatives’ medicine cabinets to pilfer prescription drugs and the drugs are taken to parties where they’re mixed in combination with various other drugs. This practice can be dangerous, even deadly.

Study Examines Adderall Misuse Among Adolescent AthletesWhile pain medications are a common choice, another drug readily available is Adderall, which is prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This stimulant can allow students to focus and avoid sleep for days in an effort to work on a task or study. However, there are dangerous side effects, including heart palpitations and painful urination.

The Study

Along with improved academic performance, Adderall can also improve athletic performance. A recent study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs provides an analysis of Adderall use among adolescent athletes.

The researchers accessed data from the Monitoring the Future survey that gathered information from 8th and 10th graders in 2010 and 2011. The survey included 21,137 teens and measured the past-year non-medical use of the drug and used logistic regression analysis to determine if there was a connection between the level of involvement in competitive sports and nonmedical Adderall use.

The results showed that Adderall use was more pervasive in certain sports and there were differences between the genders. Males that played lacrosse and males that wrestled were more likely to use the drug, while females did not show any patterns of use based on particular sports.

The Findings

The study’s findings showed that certain sports, particularly those involving a high level of contact, may lead to pressure among males to improve performance through a stimulant like Adderall.

How Parent’s Can Help

Parents may not realize the stress that their children deal with as they compete for grades and placement on sports teams. In many cases, the teen may feel that parental expectations are adding to their stress, so a parents’ reassurance may help them avoid the danger of drug use.

Parents can help their children avoid the misuse of Adderall and other prescription drugs by talking regularly about the pressures of school and extracurricular activities, including sports. They can also work to maintain some level of contact with teachers and coaches to help ensure that their teen is exhibiting healthy behaviors related to school, sports and extracurricular activities.


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